Australian media is being dominated by an alleged poisoning: authorities suspect Erin Patterson, 48, of Leongatha, laced what would end up being the final meal for her former in-laws. Three people died and a Baptist pastor was critically injured.
The ongoing criminal probe is rocking the communities of Leongatha and of nearby Korumburra, where detectives last responded to a homicide probe more than two decades ago, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“This sort of thing doesn’t happen here,” one Leongatha resident told the newspaper Monday.
Clearly, something like this is unusual anywhere.
The June 29th lethal serving at Erin’s home was of death cap mushrooms. They are a highly toxic fungus typically found near oak trees. Erin’s meal led to gastrointestinal problems for Gail and Don Patterson, the 70-year-old parents of her ex-husband.
Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66, and her husband, Ian Wilkinson, a 68-year-old Baptist pastor in nearby Korumburra, were also impacted by the contents of the meal.
The Pattersons and Heather died at a hospital, while Wilkinson awaits a liver transplant. A fifth person who attended the lunch was also sickened, but recovered in the hospital and was discharged, according to the Times of London.
Erin prepared the beef Wellington with the mushrooms but served a different meal to herself and her two young children, who were also at the gathering, authorities said. She denied wrongdoing this week, saying she cooked the meal for the “best people” in her life.
“I can’t believe that this happened, and I am sorry that they have lost their lives,” Erin said outside her home. “I didn’t do anything; I loved them. I just can’t fathom what happened.
A motive, or even speculation about it, is not known. All that is known is that Patterson’s ex-husband Simon was supposed to be there as well but had to cut out at the last minute. Simon previously spent 21 days in intensive care after suffering “serious gut problems” in May 2022. Exactly when he split from his wife is unclear.